Most band names aren't meant to be taken literally. Please try to limit this section to names which could be legitimately misinterpreted.
Barenaked Ladies are actually composed of fully clothed men, though from Gordon up to Everything To Everyone they would record at least one song per album in the buff... just for luck, you understand, with the naked track usually left off the album. Theories include:
Possibly coincidentally, colchicums (crocus-like flowers which bloom in autumn without accompanying leaves) are sometimes known as "(bare)naked ladies".
Ten Thousand Maniacs was named for the B-movie Two Thousand Maniacs!, multiplied by the number of members. Which makes the name nonindicative in another way. Since the name was inspired by one of the original gore films, one might expect a death metal or grindcore band, rather than a fairly laid-back alternative group.
The band 1910 Fruitgum Company is not a company that makes fruit flavored gum and was actually formed in 1965. There was a real 1910 Fruit Gum Company. What were they known for? Slot machines. Slot machines that dispensed gum. This actually made more sense than you might think, as it helped to evade anti-gambling laws. You would put your money in the "gum dispensing machine," and if you won, you'd be paid in cash, under the table, by the proprietor.
Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle ('Little Solemn Mass') isn't particularly small, solemn, or liturgical.
Leonard Bernstein's Mass isn't so much sacred music as arguably sacrilegious musical theatre.
Of Montreal are not, in fact, of Montreal. They're from Athens, Georgia. The name refers to lead singer Kevin Barnes' ex-girlfriend coming from Montreal.
Alabama 3 is a British band, and has way more than three members.
The Nashville Teens were not from Nashville, and were not teenagers at the time of their biggest hit "Tobacco Road." They were British and chose their name because they wanted to sound American.
The Bay City Rollers were not from Bay City. They were Scottish and were named when their manager threw a dart at a map of America.
Mannheim Steamroller is from Omaha. It was named after an orchestral technique innovated in Mannheim.
The 1940s R&B group The "5" Royales had six members, which is why the "5" was in quotes.
Ben Folds Five has three members. While the band name was picked for the sake of humor, Ben Folds has also pointed out that the name just "sounds better" than Ben Folds Three would have, probably due to alliteration.
Hootie & the Blowfish: Hootie does not refer to lead singer Darius Rucker. "Hootie" and "Blowfish" were the nicknames of college friends. It remains to be seen whether Rucker's country music solo career (under his own name) will lift the curse of being called "Hootie" for the rest of his life.
The Nineties rap group Young Black Teenagers were all white. Their name is supposedly a reference to the black culture, but many people were offended by it.
The Sisters Of Mercy consists of several members, but only one of them was female and she was neither a nun nor a sibling to any other member. (They are named after a Leonard Cohen song.)
In the Black Sabbath song "Iron Man," Iron Man seems mis-named. In one lyric states, "He was turned to steel in the great magnetic field" and another describes his "heavy boots of lead." No other lyric but his name suggests that he's pure iron. Of course, being lyrics written by Geezer Butler, the words were obviously selected for rhyme rather than scientific accuracy.
The Takeover UK is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They added the "UK" into their name to avoid a lawsuit with another band called The Takeover.
The Thompson Twins contain neither any twins nor anybody named Thompson. They were named after two characters from the Tintin comics, who also aren't twins, and only one of whom was called Thompson. Confusing enough yet?
The Led Zeppelin album Houses of the Holy does not have the song "Houses of the Holy" on it. That song would not be released until their next album, two years later.
BECK's One Foot In The Grave doesn't feature the song "One Foot In The Grave". That was on the same year's Stereopathetic Soul Manure (and was probably written earlier than anything from One Foot In The Grave itself, as Stereopathetic was a collection of outtakes). Similarly, his song "Midnite Vultures" was a B-Side, and didn't appear on the album Midnite Vultures. Interestingly, "Midnite Vultures" the song wasn't written until after the album of the same name was released - it was composed during sessions specifically designed to create more b-sides for his singles, and ended up with that title simply because Beck couldn't think of anything else.
And Tom Waits' song "Frank's Wild Years" is on the album "Swordfishtrombones", not "Frank's Wild Years". (The entire album sort of expounds on the earlier song.)
The Doors' song "Waiting for the Sun" is on Morrison Hotel, not Waiting for the Sun.
Def Leppard's first album, On Through the Night does not have the song "On Through the Night." It is on their second album, High 'n' Dry.
Queen released the album Sheer Heart Attack in 1974. The song "Sheer Heart Attack" was released three years and three albums later on News of the World.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer's album Brain Salad Surgery was released in 1973, but the track "Brain Salad Surgery" not until 1976, as the B-side of "Fanfare for the Common Man"; it was first issued on a promotional flexidisc before the release of the album, causing fans who'd heard the promo disc to be surprised by its omission.
Julian Cope's album World Shut Your Mouth did not contain the title cut, which showed up on his next album (Saint Julian).
Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom was named for a track that was left off the original LP, although it is on the reissue's bonus CD. Also, his song "Almost Blue" is on Imperial Bedroom, not Almost Blue.
"The Kids Are Alright" might be the best-known The Who song that is not in the film or on the soundtrack album The Kids Are Alright
The Mars Volta did not include "Frances the Mute" into an album of the same name but rather presented their fans with it some time later on "The Widow".
The AC/DC song "High Voltage" didn't appear on their debut High Voltage, but rather its followup T.N.T. (the foreign version of High Voltage does include it)
Echo & the Bunnymen never had a band member named Echo. People think it was the name of the band's drum machine from before Pete de Freitas joined, but the band have denied this.
Electric Six originally had five members when they changed their name from The Wildbunch. They eventually got six members by their third album after several lineup changes and have stuck with the number since.
Jethro Tull are a band, rather than an individual, none of whom are actually called "Jethro Tull". The name is taken from that of an 18th century English agriculturalist. They were so named because in its early days, the band gave many terrible performances, which did not go down well with audiences or club owners. They would constantly have to change their name to ensure getting gigs. One of the band's managers, a well-read man, suggested "Jethro Tull", the name of an author of one of his books. The band finally played a good gig that night, and were booked from then on as Jethro Tull. They were stuck with that name for 42 years and growing!
There is nobody in the Marshall Tucker Band named Marshall Tucker. They saw the name on a discarded receipt found on the ground in a bar where they were playing. The real Tucker was a blind piano tuner who had done some previous business there.
None of The Ramones were actually named Ramone. The name was inspired by Paul Ramone—a pseudonym used by Paul McCartney during the Beatles' years in Hamburg.
They did, however, adopt stage names with "Ramone" as a new surname, zigzagging this trope.
"Sing, Sing, Sing" is best remembered as a jazz instrumental, with Gene Krupa's drumming more familiar than the actual tune written by Louis Prima.
Brazilian Girls contains no Brazilians and only one girl. Their music doesn't have any Brazilian influence either.
Turbonegro consists entirely of white Norwegians. None of them have a reputation for being particularly fast.
Nobody in Sleater Kinney is named Sleater or Kinney. The band was named for a road near where the members grew up.
Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats: Surprisingly, the country part is accurate (it was sort of a Something Completely Different turn for them), but the album only has ten songs. The title might be a joke, but it could instead refer to both the 10 songs on the album and two additional songs that were recorded during the same sessions but were used as B Sides. There's even been speculation that the "Golden Country Greats" aren't the songs themselves, but the large group of session musicians the band worked with, all of whom had a long history in country music.
A similar example is Throbbing Gristle's third album, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, which originally has 11 songs, all of which were not jazz or funk, but Industrial.
NRBQ's album NRBQ at Yankee Stadium is not a live album. NRBQ has never played at Yankee Stadium. The packaging contains pictures of the band at Yankee Stadium, but specifically states that it was "Recorded at Bearsville Studios, November 1977 (not at Yankee Stadium). Bassist Joey Spampinato has been a lifelong Yankees fan.
"Of course, Don Quixote carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be... Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes."
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are far too good a band to be called a trainwreck. Also, they formed in 1999.
Girls Under Glass, a gothic band from Germany, has an all-male lineup.
Conversely, many Christian bands have names that either do not refer to Christianity (e.g., Relient K, Skillet) or contain more obscure Biblical references that would not be obvious to the uninitiated (e.g. Stryper, Jars of Clay, My Children My Bride).
The Statler Brothers is not composed of brothers named Statler (two of the members are brothers, but the other two are unrelated). They were named after a brand of facial tissue.
Most recordings of Chopin's "Minute Waltz" are closer to 90 seconds along. Unless you're in The Music Man, in which case you can play the minute waltz in 50 seconds.
You would expect J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor to be a dark-sounding work full of Ominous Latin Chanting, like other well-known Latin religious works. But despite the "B Minor" in the name, the Mass is dominated not by ominousness, but by positive and sad, but not aggresive, themes. Indeed, much of the Mass is not actually in B Minor.
The Dresden Dolls are not from Dresden, nor are they dolls. "Dresden" refers to a German city that was bombed in World War II, and produced porcelain dolls before the bombing.
The New York Dolls were from New York City, but their name isn't a direct reference to it. They were named after the New York Doll Hospital, a doll repair shop located across the street from a men's boutique called A Different Drummer, where guitarist Sylvain Sylvain worked.
Eagles Of Death Metal don't sound like Eagles, nor do they play Death Metal. Member Josh Homme came up with the name when he was introduced to a song by Polish death metal band Vader and said they were the "Eagles of Death Metal." He then started to wonder what an Eagles-death metal hybrid would sound like and used the name for his new band.
Jew Harps are not harps, nor are they specifically associated with Jews: the instrument is found in almost all music cultures. It is said that the name comes from the french "jeu-trompe," which means "toy trumpet."
Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a band based in and founded by people by New York, composed of just four people. They allegedly chose the name from the Trans-Siberian Railway, 'cause it sounds cool. The "orchestra" part makes sense due to the symphonic influences in their music. The touring groups, however, are big enough to be considered an orchestra.
There is no Lynyrd Skynyrd playing or singing in the band of that name. It refers a high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner, who was strict about boys having short hair.
The French horn is not French. It was named to differentiate it from the English horn, which, in turn, is not English—it got its name from a mishearing of the French for "angled horn."
Furthermore, the English horn is not even a horn. (It's a double-reed woodwind most closely related to the oboe.)
The Lovers' Concerto is not a concerto but a minuet, based on the Minuet in G, attributed to Christian Petzold.
Also, despite being labeled a soundtrack, only two songs appear in the film.
The Beautiful South were from Oop North, specifically Hull.
The Utah Saints were not from Utah, but Leeds, England. The name is obviously a reference to Mormons.
Manchester Orchestra is in fact a five-piece rock band from Atlanta, Georgia (which is coincidentally 65 miles away from a town named Manchester). The name is a reference to the city in England known for its rich musical history.
Pizzicato Five only had five members for a brief period of time.
The Queens of the Stone Age are common men from the present day. When member Josh Homme was in his previous band Kyuss, producer Chris Goss joked that they were like "the queens of the stone age." The "Queens" part was chosen because "king" gives off a macho image.
Scissor Sisters doesn't have any incestuous lesbians in the band or any lesbians at all for that matter. There is only one female member, vocalist Ana Matronic, and neither she nor anyone else in the band are siblings. The name refers to the tribadism, a lesbian sexual act where the participants' legs create a scissor-like shape. (What they cut things with is a closely-guarded secret.)
None of the studio bands that played under the name Ohio Express were from Ohio (they were mostly from New York), and one of the later versions (which would become more famous as 10 C.C.) was British.
"The Hip Hop Phenomenon" by BT isn't hip-hop at all; it's breakbeat. The title comes from the repeated vocal sample in the track.
Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show wasn't a Medicine Show, either. Nor was their lead singer a doctor. He was nicknamed because he wore an eye patch that reminded his bandmates of Captain Hook.
The 80's Philadelphia band The Hooters were named after the musical instrument, otherwise known as a melodica. Yeah, right.
A free concert headlined by Canadian indie folk band The New Pornographers at a semi-Christian college was canceled because one of the elderly heads of the school thought their name was obscene. They're actually named after an obscure Japanese film.
The P.D.Q Bach instrument known as the "windbreaker" in no way resembles a jacket; its alternate name "mailing tuba" is more accurate. Actually, it's named after what it sounds like.
Pure Prarie League is not a temperance union based in North Dakota.
Jonathan Coulton's song "You Ruined Everything" is not, in fact, about how the eponymous "you" destroyed the singer's life. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Frank Beard is the only member of ZZ Top who does not wear a beard. He usually only has a mustache, but has grown a small beard, although not one comparable to Billy Gibbons' and Dusty Hill's.
Barry Manilow did not write "I Write The Songs." It was written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys, and refers to the creative world of music in general.
The LAME MP3 encoder isn't at all lame — it's renowned for excellence. Also, the name stands for LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder, making it doubly misleading.
Synthesisers contain analytic components such as filters, although the way they work is mostly synthetic.
The album Octoberon by Barclay James Harvest was their tenth, not their eighth. It should have been called "Decameron".
Unless their intention was, you know, a reference to October, the tenth month of the year.
Few people would describe Grand Funk Railroad's music as funk. The name was inspired by the Grand Trunk and Western Railroad, which ran through the band's native Flint, Michigan.
Technically The Moody Blues albums Seventh Sojourn and Octave are their eight and ninth albums respectively, because their first (unsuccessful) professional era resulted in one album, The Magnificent Moodies. However, most fans regard their true professional life to have started with Days of Future Passed, and thus disregard this album. It's available from Amazon.com.
The band Sleepytime Trio was actually a four-piece throughout almost all their existence, though they started out as a trio and added the fourth member shortly after formation making it more of an Artifact Title.
Gordon Gano has said that "femme" is, in this case, Wisconsin high school slang for a sissy, which fits the band's nerdish image.
Orbital's first album was nicknamed the Green Album, but the cover looks more yellow, and the CD itself is red.
The original British sleeve is definitely green. Slightly on the yellow side of green, but definitely green.
As someone once pointed out, British DJ Dr. Fox is neither a real doctor nor a real fox. British Conservative politician Dr Liam Fox, by contrast, is a real doctor, but he doesn't live in a burrow with a vixen and cubs either.
At full strength, there are more than five members in the current line-up of gospel greats the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and not all of them are blind Alabamans. Sadly, they're not really boys these days either. Sheer longevity has made the name less indicative than it was originally.
"Weird Al" Yankovic's "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long" is a lot more than six words long. Even if you go with the intended joke, it's seven words long (the word "is" is clearly enunciated in the lyrics, not as a part of a contraction with "song").
Stereolab's "Stunning Debut Album". It's actually a 7" single, and the band's second or third release. Their final album Not Music has more music than advertised.
The Warlock song "Three Minute Warning" is only two and half minutes long.
Liquid Tension Experiment's "Three Minute Warning" goes the other way and lasts over 27 minutes.
17 Hippies, which is actually comprised of 13 Germans.
Acid House Kings have nothing to do with the music genre Acid House. In fact they play indie pop with no traces of electronic dance music whatsoever.
In Drake's song "Marvin's Room", Marvin's Room isn't the name of the club he's in and his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend is not named Marvin. In fact the name Marvin is never mentioned. The name is a reference to Marvin Gaye's music studio, where Drake recorded the song.
Similarly, Lil Wayne's "MegaMan" doesn't sample the Mega Man theme; it's just the name of the song's producer. The Young Money camp seems to be sticking with a lot of working titles lately.
Alt-country band 5 Chinese Brothers probably takes the cake. Not a quintet, not Chinese and not brothers. They took their name from an American children's book, which was an adaptation of the Chinese folk tale Ten Brothers.
A set of humorous Christian album covers making the rounds on the internet included a gospel quartet named "The King's Three," and a sermon by a middle-aged man entitled "Confessions of a Teenage Girl."
The story recounted in the Dan Fogelberg song "Same Old Lang Syne" takes place on Christmas Eve, not New Year's Eve.
Part Nonindicative Name, part Refrain from Assuming: on Marilyn Manson's album Antichrist Superstar, the title track doesn't feature the line "antichrist superstar"; the following track, "1996", does.
Done deliberately by XTC's "Don't Lose Your Temper", which has the exact opposite premise of what you'd guess of the title: The narrator's girlfriend has a hot temper, which he finds attractive, and he doesn't want her to "lose" it as a trait. Thus "Don't lose your temper / 'cause I'd hate you to grow mild".
The Beach Boys' album Shut Down, Volume 2 - The Shut Down it's supposedly a sequel to isn't a Beach Boys album, but a compilation by various artists that included some Beach Boys songs. It can be kind of confusing to look at a Beach Boys discography and see Shut Down, Volume 2 but no Shut Down, Volume 1.
Joan Of Arc's Live In Chicago 1999 is not a Live Album. Word of God is that "live" is meant as in the verb (i.e. it rhymes with "give", not "dive"), and it's just a reference to the fact that the band were all living in Chicago in 1999... Though clearly they were also messing with listeners by calling a studio album such a thing.
Green Day's song "Good Riddance" sounds like it should be loud and angry, but it is a sad, contemplative song that is often played at events like funerals and high school graduations.
"Sunrise" by Alphazone was the trance duo's final single, after which they parted ways and rode off into the sunset, so to speak.
Mozart's name derives from two original root words: "motz" and "hart," meaning "stupid" and "tough." It essentially means Dumb Muscle.
Skillet's album Alien Youth has nothing to do with extraterrestrials or ethnic immigrants. The title track and "Earth Invasion" refer to liberal Christian "outsiders" influencing the human race, and even then this concept is exclusive to those two tracks; the rest of the album focuses on spiritual yearning and existential angst.
The name of Viking Metal band Amon Amarth is taken from The Lord of the Rings, yet aside from their self-titled song, none of their material has anything to do with the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Though they initially formed under the name Scum, they don't appear to have any songs that address politics, misanthropic cynicism or anything else that Napalm Death would use as a lyrical basis.note Scum is the name of Napalm Death's critically acclaimed 1986 debut album.
When Billy Corgan named his band The Smashing Pumpkins, he specifically intended "Smashing" to be read as an adjective, not a verb. From 1994 onward, all official releases added a "The" prefix to alleviate the constant misreadings.
The Offspring's "Self-Esteem" is actually about the singer's utter lack of self-esteem.
There was a short-lived country music duo in the 1950s called The Davis Sisters (not to be confused with the gospel group), consisting of Skeeter Davis and Betty Jack Davis. They were not sisters; Skeeter's real name is Mary Frances Penick.
The rap group Jurassic 5 had six members.
The vehicle pictured on the cover of The Black Keys' CD El Camino is a Plymouth Grand Voyager.
The Marcus Knight dance track "Dirty House Music" (featuring Giulietta on vocals) is neither "dirty" nor House music. It's electro-R&B.
The rapper Shaggy 2 Dope, of Insane Clown Posse fame, has been bald and clean-shaven for the majority of his career.
Don Johnson Big Band is not actually a big band group, nor does it have anything to do with Don Johnson.
Five For Fighting is not a band but one guy. He got the name from the Hockey penalty for fighting, which last 5 minutes
"Kids in America" is by a solo artist in Kim Wilde, who was not only 21 when it was released, but also British. It made a lot more sense when No Secrets covered it.
Nothing But Noise's debut, Not Bleeding Red, is mostly melodic ambient, rather than dark ambient or industrial noise as their name and history might suggest.
Neither the Walker Brothers nor the Davis Sisters were related. The Walker Brothers weren't even called Walker, except as their stage names.
Asia is a rock band that started in Britain. However, one of their former band members, Aziz Ibrahim is of Pakistani ancestry.
America was based in England, although all three members were sons of American military personnel and two were born in the US.
Anonymous 4 is a female a capella group of four singers, all of whose names are clearly listed on their album covers (currently, Susan Hellauer, Ruth Cunningham, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek and Marsha Genensky).
Judy and Mary (no one named Judy or Mary was in the band)
Eddie From Ohio has one Eddie and three non-Eddies; none are from Ohio.
Fujiya & Miyagi are not a Japanese duo, but rather four white guys from Brighton. "Fujiya" comes from a brand of record player, while "Miyagi" comes from Mr. Miyagi, the character from The Karate Kid.
While Italo Disco originated in Italy, most of its performers are not Italian. Many of its performers are actually from Germany.
Eurodance and eurorap aren't always from Europe, either. There is a compilation called "Best of Euro Rap" note apparently one of several with that title that includes a few tracks by Coolio, who is actually an American rapper who happened to make songs in this style. Eurorap music had not been named until it was no longer mainstream, so this certainly irritated some people.
The Misfits have numerous songs named after (and written about) horror movies, so you'd think a song of theirs called "Shining" would be about The Shining... Instead, it's about Poltergeist.
"Dark Wave" by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks is an indie rock song, and sounds nothing like the genre Dark Wave - It's possible that the "dark" part comes from the song having a sinister melody, while the "wave" comes from a slight New Wave influence. Also, the Working Title for Stephen Malkmus' Self-Titled Album was Swedish Reggae - supposedly the title was changed because his label was concerned the album might actually be misfiled in the reggae section of record stores.
In the nineties, there was an r&b group called Immature. One of the members' stage name was Batman. Uh... yeah, let me know if he started fighting crime in a bat-themed superhero costume.
Weezer's album Hurley has nothing to do with the LOST character, nor does it feature Jorge Garcia in any way, other than his picture on the cover. The cover came before the title, and the album was very nearly a Self-Titled Album - but then the band reasoned that it'd probably get a Fan Nickname of "The Hurley Album" if that were the case, so they just named it that way themselves.
Fiery Furnaces' EP is 41 minutes long, and therefor qualifies as more of a short album. However, it was marketed as an EP - that is, it's retail price was set lower than is typical for a full album.
Duran Duran's third album was called Seven and the Ragged Tiger but no such song actually appears on the album, nor is it about the number seven or a ragged tiger. While there is a track called "Tiger Tiger," there are nine tracks on the album, so why not "Eight and the Ragged Tiger"? Though this could be a slight inversion as the band did in fact compose and record a song called "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" (a demo version exists in lo-fi bootlegged format and features backing vocals by a couple of fortunate fans), but it eventually morphed and developed into "The Seventh Stranger".
Men Without Hats had an EP called Folk Of The 80's and an album called Folk Of The 80's (Part III), but there was never officially a Folk Of The 80's (Part II)... However, Part III was their third non-single release overall, so perhaps their second album, Rhythm of Youth, is supposed to be considered part two.
Cocteau Twins had three members most of the time, none of whom were related and none of whom were named Cocteau.
Both Birds of Tokyo and Architecture in Helsinki are actually humans from Australia.
Similarly, Tokyo Police Club are Canadian and none are members of the police force (or The Police).
New Album by Boris is hardly an album and only a third of it was new at the time.
The Waitresses. Despite the 80s New Wave band name sounding like an all-girl band, only four of its members are female.
The jazz standard "Mood Indigo" has no connection with, and doesn't sound anything like, the early synthpop track "Moog Indigo". In any case, "Moog" (as many electronic-music fans know) rhymes with "vogue", so the intended pun doesn't work.
"Song About A Girl" by Eric Paslay, actually barely mentions the girl. It's more about what it's not about than anything.